Singaporebrides | The Groom Room

November 2013

How to Succeed at Marriage

What makes a successful couple? How do you turn your marriage into an enviable one? Fu Jinming lets you in on the secret.

Walk into the Singapore Registry of Marriages and the first thing that greets you is a sign that asks: “You’re ready for your wedding. How about the marriage?”

It is a question that we all take for granted. Yet it means the difference between a marriage we tolerate, and one that rewards us with life’s most wonderful moments. Your wedding is but a ceremony. A first step. Your marriage, on the other hand, is a perpetual work in progress, a lifetime commitment that requires patience, courage, and finesse.

So the question begs: Is there such a thing as the perfect couple? You know, the ones who always seem to have their frequencies tuned just right. Who never seem to fight. Who still giggle at the sight of each other. Who always seem to be patient, understanding, and in love – no matter how many years they’ve worn their rings for.

Fact is, ALL couples fight. The smart ones just don’t do it in front of us. And the really successful ones spend as much time mending the fight as they do starting it. For love is rarely the fairy tale it’s made out to be. Rather, it’s a lot more like a dance. One that demands that its partners practise for years to get their chemistry right and their moves in harmony. You will be stepping on each other’s toes in the beginning. It’s inevitable that you do. But by the end of it, the two of you should be twirling to the notes of your life together – in time, and in love.

So put on your dancing shoes as we reveal eight secrets to a happy, rewarding, blissful life as two.

#1: Enjoy Each Other’s Company

How to Succeed at Marriage

This might seem like a little obvious, but it’s actually one of the hardest things to do in a marriage. Particularly if you’ve spent so many years together that you’re both immune to the sight of each other. Yet it’s one of the most essential tenets of a happy marriage.

Successful couples like to be together. They talk together, walk together, and generally do stuff as two. Sometimes, that means putting up with each other’s quirks and eccentricities. But it shouldn’t feel like a chore. Instead, it should feel like spending time with a best friend. Someone who’d just like to be there to eat with you, watch television with you, or to simply hold your hand – warts and all.

#2: Fight the Right Way

As mentioned before, all couples fight. Anyone who tells you otherwise is either a liar, or has a relationship that has reached its last stop.

Disagreements and differences in opinions are bound to happen when two people live together for a long time. The difference is that when successful couples fight, they do it in a way that leaves their relationship stronger for it.

One move they pull off really well is their choice of words in an argument. Research has shown that couples using plural pronouns like “we”, “us” and “ours” are less likely to feel stressed out after the fight than couples who used singular versions like “I”, “me”, and “mine”. The logic is sound: Using the ‘we’ words puts you on the same team. It’s telling her that you’re trying to resolve the disagreement for ‘the both of us’. It might not win you the argument, but it might raise her opinion of you at the end of it.

#3: Forgive

How to Succeed at Marriage

When it comes down to it, what makes a couple great is the ability to seek and offer forgiveness. That means offering an apology when you’ve done something wrong, or accepting one when you’ve been done wrong to.

Admittedly, being on the accepting end is harder, especially when the emotional damage is deep. Here’s how to do it: First, take a break from thinking about the hurtful event for a while. Don’t think about punishing your partner; fight your vindictive self. Then make a conscious decision to let go of the resentment, and forgive.

#4: Be Positive

A happy relationship is almost always a positive one too. Studies have shown that couples that regularly make positive remarks about each other, and show mutual respect, affection and empathy, are also likelier to be happier ones. So the next time you’re met with a snarky jibe from your cranky Other, try responding with a compliment instead.

#5: Learn and Grow Together

A couple that learns together, stays together. That’s because partners who take up a new activity or hobby together expand their horizons as one. And as a result, foster a stronger emotional bond to one another. It’s a deeper kind of love that plays off each other’s interests and strengths.

The health-conscious partner can influence the other to exercise. The artsy one can help hers discover his creative side. It’s a win-win endeavour that creates opportunities for both partners to share their passions, to support each other’s pursuits, and more importantly, to grow as persons together.

#6: Keep Dating

How to Succeed at Marriage

Like a car that runs on fuel, a marriage runs on romance. The ability to keep the flames burning in your relationship will mean the difference between a marriage you put up with, and one you can’t live without.

You don’t have to suddenly turn into Don Juan. Start with something simple. Set aside an evening a week for a date. Or plan that romantic getaway every now and then. It could even be stealing a lunch break together, just to talk and have a cup of coffee – like you both used to.

#7: Give More than You Take

Believe it or not, a healthy marriage is one that requires more giving from both partners, and less taking. Experts have even suggested a 60/40 rule: you give 60 and take 40 in any given situation. Like donating 60% of your TV time to her favourite programme; offering 60% of your afternoon to go shopping with her; giving 60% of your closet space to her shoes.

The math does work out eventually. Because when she does the same for you, the both of you become selfless participants in the relationship, always trying to ‘out-give’ each other. This does wonders for your relationship, moulding it into an appreciative and happy partnership.

#8: Share the Same Values

While it is mostly true that opposites attract, most successful couples share a healthy number of common values too. After all, shared values are the foundation upon which a successful partnership is built – be it in business, or in love.

So if you are someone who believes in frugality, find someone who does too. If you believe in integrity at work and in life, your partner needs to believe in and support that too.

Sharing the same beliefs means you share the same goals, as well as the same ups and downs. It puts you both on the same life path, creating a successful marriage that nurtures respect, understanding, and longevity.